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christine c. salas
christine c salas I WORK for the company that operates and maintains the newly-rehabilitated North Luzon Expressway (NLEX). I am based in Balintawak, and in my language—that's 84 kms travelled twice daily. The 84-km stretch of NLEX is divided in three clusters—aptly named Clusters 1, 2, and 3 (what were you thinking?). Pampanga falls under Cluster 3. In my one-year stint with this company, I would always hear drivers raving (sometimes, ranting) over Cluster 3 toll tellers. It was either these Kapampangan tellers were "magaling makisama" or "maingay." Being a half-blooded Kapampangan, I don't mind being called "maingay"—the Kapampangans made sure that the direct translation of this Tagalog word will even sound good when used as an adjective to describe the intensity of the conversation:

"Masiglâ!"

Anyway, the company employs individuals residing in areas within the span of the expressway. This could've been the modern-day Tower of Babel, had it not been for Tagalog, which is our major medium of communicating at the office. What you will find below are from just some of my daily dealings, as a half-blood Kapampangan immersed in the corporate cube.

*

One of the key features of the expressway is the Candaba viaduct. This 5.3 km structure stretches across the Candaba swamp between the Bulacan and Pampanga provinces. Executives often get a good laugh over a popular "viaduct joke," which is mostly marketable to Kapampangans:

The Candaba viaduct is so long, a motorist drives off from Pampanga with an "ebun" (egg)—and gets to the other end of the duct with an "ibon."

*

Still on NLEX, while most of my Manila co-emps refer to it as "Mexico (mek-siko) Exit" (which really is foreign-sounding to me), my Kapampangan blood keeps my tongue in the K-way of pronouncing it: "meh-chi-ku." Tellers dropping off at Mexico would usually get puzzled stares from shuttle drivers:

"Where the hell is Meh-chi-ko?"

*

Still on places, Tagalogs from the north "luwas" to Maynila, while we Kapampangans "luslus to Menila [meh-nee-LAH]." Also note that the verb "luslus" (yes, it's a verb) is only applicable if the place receiving the action is Manila. Kapampangans do not "luslus" to Tagaytay, Bulacan, the US, or to any other place, for that matter.

"Luslus" is strictly just for Manila.

*

Overheard at the office. My Kapampangan officemate was transferring an ongoing call to another local. With this, she courteously instructed the caller: "'Wag mo ibaba yung talepano ha, i-ta-transfer lang kita." I really had to expend all my energies from throwing myself into fits of giggles.

At the nearby turu-turo, the tindera looked at me, puzzled, as I ordered "balatong" (with matching point-point). After making sure that what I was pointing to and saying was, in fact, one and the same, she confirmed my order and said, "Ah, munggo ba?"

Now, let's get out of the office. I have a Kapampangan friend, Joseph, who can never really drop his K-speak. There was this one time, we had to attend a friend's son's christening in Cavite, and since our schedules didn't permit us to drive to Cavite in one batch, he had to catch up and take the bus to Cavite. At the terminal, while waiting for passengers to fill up the vehicle, bored and polluted, Joseph asked the "kunduktor":

"Boss, sinasapak po ba 'to?"

Good thing the kunduktor, who was chewing on a piece of merienda, made Joseph repeat the query, thus allowing the latter to rephrase the question—and save himself from a potential bus brawl.

*

I had a Kapampangan classmate who would usually get into word fights in defense of our Kapampangan roots—specifically, pronunciation. My classmates would usually tease her about her peculiar "dropping and adding" of h's at the most inconvenient places ("bahay" become "ba-ay"). But it wasn't the case of the missing h's that enamored her to me. One time, while she was pondering on how to acceptably place her h's (and possibly evade being the butt of our jokes), she stressed that she wasn't really missing her consonants and went on justifying this by saying, "Silent h kaya yun, mga mulala!" When no one bought this idea, she broke down and confessed that "indi kasi talaga niya 'gamat' ang Tagalog."

Moreover, it was only during our college graduation rites, thanks to the programme, that I found out her last name—de Leon, and not de Le-won.

She was also this classmate who was so vain, she'd stock up on beauty soaps everytime she receives her allowance for the week. One time, I asked her what's keeping her skin so fair and supple.

Curtly, she replied, "Likas Capaya, joh!"

From then on, that orange bar of soap stimulates something really, albeit funny, Kapampangan in me.

*

Sure, I don't mind missing my h's every so often. Our "parul" and sizzling sisig, among other things that are glamorously Kapampangan, can surely compensate for what we lack.


[About the author. Christine "Kitin" C. Salas works for Tollways Management Corporation as a secretary]

-Posted: 10:44 AM 7/8/09 | More of this author on eK!
WHAT THEY SAY...

Ral David (USA) writes...

How about the difference between "Sasmuan" and "Sexmoan" (said 'sex muan')...which one is correct?

-Posted/Via Email: 2009-07-08 07:33:36 PDT



Andrea Y. Gatchalian (Philippines) writes...

Hi, I want to answer the query of what is right between sex-moan or sasmuan. Before the real name of the town was sexmoan. But later on changed ibecause of the unpleasant pronounciation which is sex-moan. But of course, some older people in the town still pronounce it sexmoan not sasmuan. Me too, I still say it sexmoan because that is the the original name of the town.

-Posted/Via Email: 2009-07-15 20:04:35 PDT



Nenette de Dios Capulong (Wetminster, Colorado, USA) writes...

Christine, thank you for your article. It started my day with a laugh. I hope my whole day will be happy. Kapampangans are known for their way of mispronouncing our National language---Tagalog. Or I may say massacre of Tagalog. I had a former officemate in Mimosa, Clark who told me a story about a Kapampangan who went to work in Manila. He was buying "ulam from a "turu-turo." And he pointed at the paksi. The storekeeper answered "Paksiw ba?" and he nodded, realizing you just have to add "w" to the last letter and presto! you're speaking Tagalog. He was asked which part of the fish he preferred. He answered " Yung Ikiw."

Yes even here in the U. S. Our Kapampangan kabalens do that. On my last birthday, my friend in California who was our former neighbor in Angeles greeted me and asked where we celebrated. I said my family treated me to a Mexican restaurant. He said, "Wa, manyaman pin ing Mechikan Pud." And he also asked "American citicent" na kayo?"

Wherever a Kapampangan lives, we still stand out when it comes to cooking. Hope you guys saw the Anthony Bourdain show "No Reservations" where he went to Pampanga and ate sisig, kalderetang kambing, kare-kare, bulanglang bangus, which made us all crave for our Kapampangan fare. Proud to be born and raised the Kapampangan way.

-Posted/Via Email: 2009-07-24 12:15:41 PDT



Joeriz G. Balatbat (of the Phlippines) writes...

Re: Sasmoan/Sexmoan. Just read an article that its original name was indeed Sasmoan. But later on, ita was mispronounced by Spaniards as Sesmoan and they changed "s" to "x."

-Posted/Via Email: 2009-10-14 01:29:25 PDT



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